Making Light in Dark Times by Wayne Saalman


SPACE: THE FINAL FRONTIER. We’ve all heard the phrase. We know why it is true and why it is significant, but what we also know is that our home planet is riddled with ecological problems and that the human species has more troubles than a pack of rabid rats on a sinking ship. The result of that – as we go down into the dark drink – is a collective sense of desperation that has us snapping and biting at each other with teeth bared and claws sharpened for the kill.


So it can seem.


Most of us, fortunately, are far from willing to harm a member of our own species, however, even if that other person happens to be totally unlike ourselves; a conservative instead of a liberal, for example, or a liberal instead of a conservative; a person of color instead of white and vice versa; a religious supremacist instead of a humanist or an agnostic and so on…


How wise it, though, to spend billions on the pursuit of space while millions die of starvation, cancer, stroke and countless other diseases every year on our beloved Earth?


People say, “I want to blast off for Mars and live there,” when they cannot even find their way to a polling station, vote their conscience, put the welfare of the nation ahead of party affiliation and get beyond the mad media circus with its truth-defying acrobatics.


Cue the laugh-track, folks. Is anything funny anymore?


Fortunately, it is. Laughter is necessary because laughter lightens everything, even the disturbing state of our current cultural climate. After all, it is not just the planetary eco-crisis that has us in peril here on this Earth of ours. We, the planet’s troubled inhabitants, relentlessly launch tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards of chilly harangues and countless blistering diatribes at each other across the various social media platforms with alarming regularity anymore. Comments that were once delivered tongue-in-cheek have turned into full-blown tongue lashings, many of which are set loose from our mouths and keyboard-flailing fingers like blasts from bazookas and machineguns.


Have we gone mad?


We have. We’re mad about everything: health care, housing, wages, pollution, inflation, immigration and taxation, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, the menace of racism and the scourge of disinformation. We have alcoholism with which to contend, drug addiction, terrorism and the threat of damnation and eternal hellfire if we are of a certain faith.


What has been missed here? Human trafficking, forced enslavement, greed, thievery, rape and the rise of hate crimes right around the world?


The world – our world – is a hotbed of cruelty and malice it seems. Our phones are smart, but we are not. So it appears… Conservatives blast the “bleeding heart” liberals and liberals blast the “heartless” conservatives for their lack of empathy and their inability to care for the poor.


Poor, poor Planet Earth.


No wonder so many are volunteering to exit this tormented world and migrate to Mars.


There really is hope, however. Western religions tell us that we reap what we sow. Eastern spiritual traditions tell us that karma is for real; that what goes around, comes around.


In other words, spit venom, spawn demons. Live by the gun, die by the gun. Cut others to the quick and, in turn, be cut to the quick.


The wise advise that take we the kicks, the licks, the lashings and offer compassion and kindness only in return. They tell us to laugh off the antics of simpletons and fools and make light of the dark chicanery these fellow citizens perpetrate if only to keep ourselves from falling into bouts of buffoonery, as well.


And that makes sense. Making light is our last best hope. We cannot and should not let those who are oblivious grind us down, for they know not what they do, which is precisely what the word “oblivious” means! And, yes, the ways of the world can beguile us and sometimes defile us, but that is only if a person is willing to forego the wily genius of his or her own sublime conscience.


We must keep our wits about us and stick, not to our guns, but to our higher ideals. That is what will get us the last laugh in the end. That is what will keep us lifting our eyes heavenward toward the next horizon and those beyond. That is what will bring us to the next quantum leap in human evolution.


Space: the final frontier. What has it gotten us? MRI and CAT scans. The first portable computer (called the Grid Compass) and the first “mouse”. Medical devices employing LED technology which can relieve the pain of wounded soldiers, cancer patients and people with other diseases. Solar cells, insulin pumps, artificial limbs, state of the art air purifiers and water filtration systems, invisible braces, compact workout machines for strength and muscle tone, shock absorbers for buildings, tires that are as tough as steel, top of the line firefighting equipment, scratch resistant lenses, freeze-dried foods and – the young will love these three – super cool running shoes that can take a pounding, wireless headsets and, yes, the very cameras which are used in cellphones and laptops today (so remember that when you take your next “selfie”!).


Bottom line: yes, it’s a mad world, but it is also a world with a species of creature with a great sense of humor which can not only make light of all its problems as it works to solve those problems. It is a species with its eyes cast skyward on not only Mars, but on all the stars in this vast, unfathomably massive cosmos it inhabits and has the ineffably wonderful privilege of calling home.




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